JOB S SEARCH C ORRESPONDENCE
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JOB S SEARCH C CORRESPONDENCE INTRODUCTION
ritten communication, whether hard copy or e-mail, serves many purposes in a job search. An effective job campaign may require a variety of correspondence: cover
letters for resumes, networking letters, letters requesting information, thank you letters, job acceptance and/or rejection letters. Examples of these letters are illustrated in the accompanying pages, along with explanations of their style and format. In addition, knowing how to send correspondence via e-mail or through an online application system is just as important. How you communicate with an employer may have an impact on your job search. It is considered professional business practice to use e-mail etiquette when communicating with business professionals. The rules for communicating with employers via email in a job search will also be presented.
TYPES OF LETTERS WITH SAMPLES Cover Letters
he cardinal rule in sending out cover letters is very simple: whenever possible, address your cover letter to the particular person doing the hiring. Avoid addressing a letter “to whom it may concern.” The cover letter serves as a forum to communicate your enthusiasm and professional strengths and to highlight those experiences and interests that make you a unique applicant. When writing to employers who have indicated specific job openings, you should draft a one page cover letter with the same creativity as the effort put into your resume.
Your cover letter may consist of three to four paragraphs and always should be b e under one page in length. In addition, make sure to spell-check your letter and proof it for any grammatical errors. Use good quality stationery and matching envelopes. First Paragraph: Serves to identify yourself (i.e., I am a senior at the the University of Houston) and should explain why you are contacting them. Mention how you learned about the organization or the specific job opening, whether it was from a friend, an article in the newspaper, a professor or a job posting. Second Paragraph: Highlights your qualifications, education and experiences most relevant to the position without merely rehashing the description in your resume (i.e., I feel that my experience and academic preparation in _______ will enable me to make an important contribution to the future of “company name.”) Display genuine enthusiasm for the position
highlighting relevant work experience. Focus on how your skills fulfill the employer’s needs.
This paragraph should also include a sentence or two about why you seek work with this particular employer or organization. Third Paragraph: Serves to thank the employer for his/her consideration of you, give the employer your telephone number, and indicate that you will be calling within the next week regarding the
possibility of arranging an interview.
Keep the cover letter short and to the point. Use appropriate language. Repeat terms the employer uses. Avoid jargon and the passive voice. Use action verbs, as well as the active voice. Don’t try to be cute or too aggressive. aggressive. Always be positive by stressing your past accomplishments and skills, as well as your future value.
Cover letters generally fall into two categories: 1. Application Letters – – The The purpose of the application letter is to get your enclosed resume read and to generate interviews. Use this type of letter in response to specific job advertisements and vacancy announcements. Your strategy is to demonstrate that your qualifications match the requirements of the position. Study the position description carefully and decide on one or more themes – themes – education, education, experience, interests, responsibility, etc. – etc. – that that show persuasively how well you fit the position. Link major job dimensions with your related past performance and experience. STRUCTURE FOR APPLICATION LETTERS: Paragraph 1: Reveal your purpose and interest. Identify the position and source of information (placement office, newspaper ad, faculty referral, etc.) Paragraph 2: Outline your strongest qualifications that match the position requirements. As much as possible, provide evidence of your related experiences and accomplishments. Refer to your enclosed resume. Paragraph 3: Convince the employer that you have the personal qualities and motivation to perform well in the position. Sell yourself. Indicate why the position appeals to you. Paragraph 4: Suggest an action plan. Request an interview and indicate that you will call during a specific time period to discuss interview possibilities. Show appreciation to the reader for his/her time and consideration.
SAMPLE 1: LETTER OF APPLICA APPLICATION TION 1225 Hampton Drive Houston, TX 77299 June 27, 2010 Ms. Jane Doe Manager of Human Resources Atlantic Coast Industries, Inc. Virginia Beach, VA 23444 Dear Ms. Doe: I am applying for the position of systems analyst which was listed with University Career Services at the University of Houston. The position seems to fit very well with my education, experience, and career interests. I understand that the position requires experience in computer systems, financial applications software, and end-user consulting. With a major in Management Information Systems, I have training on mainframes, minicomputers, and microcomputers as well as with a variety of software programs and applications. My practical experience in the University’s computer center as a programmer and student consultant c onsultant for systems users gave me valuable exposure to complex computer operations. Additionally, I worked as a cooperative education student in computing operations for a large bank where whe re I gained knowledge of financial ssystems. ystems. My enclosed resume provides more details as to my qualifications. qu alifications. My background and career goals seem to match your job requirements, an and d I am confident that I can perform the job effectively. Furthermore, I am genuinely ge nuinely interested in the position and in working for Atlantic Coast Industries. Please consider my request for a personal interview to discuss further qualifications and learn more about this opportunity. I shall call you next nex t week to see if a meeting can be arranged. Should you need to contact me, please feel free to call me at (713) 684-0000, or by e-mail: [email protected]
Thank you for your consideration. I look forward to meeting with you.
Laura Paige Laura Paige
2. Letters of Inquiry – – The The purpose of this letter is to look for possible vacancies in your field, to get your resume read, and to generate interviews. Letters of inquiry are used extensively for long-distance searches and to target specific individuals in specific organizations. Structure this letter similarly to the application letter, but instead of using position information, focus on broader occupational and/or organizational dimensions to describe how qualifications match the work environment. Please see Sample 2: Letter of Inquiry
Networking Letters Letters
his letter is designed to generate information interviews – interviews – not not job interviews- which allow you to meet individuals who can give you specific information about your intended career. Your purpose in seeking information interviews may vary, but your reasons for wanting to meet with a contact person must be genuine and sincere. Information interviewing, or “networking,” has been tainted in recent years by job seekers who misuse this approach, but it remains a viable way to conduct job market research, to refine career goals and to uncover vacancy information in an industry or a specific geographic region. Information interviewing is not a magic shortcut to employment; it requires solid preparation, sincerity, and much effort. The networking letter is the first step in the information interviewing process. STRUCTURE FOR NETWORKING LETTERS: Paragraph 1: Make a connection between you and the reader, e.g., alumnus of your school, mutual acquaintance, similar interest or background, etc. Paragraph 2: State your purpose without pressuring the reader. Explain your situation briefly. Paragraph 3: Request a meeting at a mutually convenient time and indicate that you will call to make arrangements.
Normally, a resume is not attached to a networking letter, but it may be presented during the interview itself to help the interviewer address your questions. Please see Sample 3: Networking Letter
SAMPLE 2: LETTER OF INQUIRY 829 Baldwin Avenue Houston, TX 77067 January 1, 2010 Mr. Timothy S. Brown Director of College Recruiting Midwest Mercantile Company 4500 Rankin Road Chicago, IL 60601 Dear Mr. Brown: I read your company’s description on the CD-ROM CD-ROM program Companies International and would like to inquire about employment opportunities oppo rtunities in your management training program. I want to work in retail management and would like to relocate to the Chicago area after graduation. I will receive my Bachelor of Science degree in Business this May. My interest in business started in Junior Achievement while in high school, schoo l, and developed further through a variety of sales and retail positions during college. My internship with a large department dep artment store convinced me to pursue a career in retailing. When I researched the top retailers in Chicago, Midwest Mercantile emerged as having a strong market position, an excellent training program, and a reputation for excellent customer service. In short, you provide the kind of professional retail environment I am seeking. Enclosed is my resume for your consideration. My education and experience match the qualifications you seek in your management trainees, but they don’t tell the whole story. story. I know from customer and supervisor feedback that I have the interpersonal skills and motivation needed to build a successful career in retail management. Also, my relatively extensive experience gives me confidence in my career direction and in my abilities to perform competently. I realize how busy you must be during this time of year; however, I would aappreciate ppreciate a few minutes of your time. I will call you during the week of January 22 to discuss employment possibilities. In the meantime, if you you need to contact me, my telephone number is (713) 6268888 or, by e-mail, [email protected]
Thank you for your time and consideration. Sincerely,
Craig. W. Watson
Craig W. Watson Enclosure
SAMPLE 3: NETWORKING LETTER 545 Kenlock St. Houston, TX 77000 June 30, 2010 Mr. Paul Hunsaker Jones, Smith and Doe, P.C. 1400 World Trade Center Houston, TX 77088 Dear Mr. Hunsaker: Dr. James Phillips, professor of accounting at the University of Houston, suggested that I contact you. He thought that you would be in an excellent position as a UH alumnus to assist me with questions concerning career direction. As an accounting student, I am exploring which career path to pursue. Public accounting, management accounting, and IRS work all sound interesting to me at this point; however, I want to go into my campus interviews next semester with a clear sense of direction. I would like to get your advice on the long-term career implications of each path, as well as a better handle on the day-to-day activities of a CPA. I will call you next week to see if we can arrange a brief meeting at your convenience. Thank you for considering my request. Sincerely,
Janis K. English Janis K. English
Thank You Letters
his is one of the most important yet least used tools in a job search. It is used to establish goodwill, to express appreciation, and/or to strengthen your candidacy.
In following up a second interview at the plant or office, send a thank you letter to your host/team leader with a request that your appreciation be conveyed to others who interviewed you. Use the letter as an opportunity to: Reiterate your interest in a position Provide supplemental information not previously given Draw attention to the good match between your qualifications and the job requirements. Express your sincere appreciation
SAMPLE 4: THANK YOU LETTER (After Informational Interview) 9999 Thompson Lane Houston, TX 77099 June 1, 2010 Mr. Brent Clark Evans Finance Corporation 2122 Fountain View Circle Dallas, TX 75222 Dear Mr. Clark: Your advice was most helpful in clarifying my questions on careers in finance. I am now reworking my resume and have included many of your thoughtful suggestions. I will fax you a copy next week. Thank you very much for taking time from your busy schedule to see me. I will keep in contact and follow through on your suggestion to see Sara Cook abo about ut opportunities with the Evans Finance Corporation. Sincerely,
Diane Doss Diane Doss
SAMPLE 5: THANK YOU LETTER (After a Job Interview or Plant Visit) 2130 Baxter Rd. Houston, TX 77030 February 10, 2010 Dr. Julia Edmonds, Director Technical Design Group Texas Engineering Systems, Inc. 1220 Main Street, Suite 2200 Houston, TX 77001 Dear Dr. Edmonds: Thank you very much for interviewing me yesterday for the associate engineer position. I enjoyed meeting with you and learning more about your research and design work. My enthusiasm for the position and my interest in working for Texas Engineering Systems, Inc. were strengthened as a result of the interview. I think my education and cooperative education experiences fit nicely with the job requirements, and I’m sure that I could make a significant contribution to the firm. I want to reiterate my strong interest in the position and in working with you and your staff. You provide the kind of opportunity I seek. Please feel free to call me at (713) 666-9999 or by E-mail, [email protected]
, if you need additional information. Again, thank you for the interview and your consideration. Sincerely,
Frederick Blackburn Frederick Blackburn
Acceptance Letters Letters
se this letter to accept a job offer and to confirm the terms of your employment (salary, starting date, medical examination, etc.).
Most often, an acceptance letter follows a telephone conversation during which the details of the offer and the terms of employment are discussed. The letter confirms your acceptance of the offer, expresses your appreciation for the opportunity, and positively reinforces the employer’s decision to hire you.
SAMPLE 6: ACCEPTANCE LETTER 777 North Shore Dr. Houston, TX 77001 May 20, 2010 Mr. Diamond Jones Data International Corporation 1212 Corporate Lane Houston, TX 77002 Dear Mr. Jones: I am writing to confirm my acceptance of o f your employment offer of May 18, and to tell you how delighted I am to be joining Data International in Houston. The position is exactly exactl y what I have prepared for and hoped ho ped to do. I feel confident that I can make a significant contribution to the corporation, and I am grateful for the opportunity you have given me. As we discussed, I will report to work at 8:00 a.m. a.m . on June 1, and will have completed the medical examination and drug testing by the start date. Additionally, I shall complete all employment and insurance forms for the new employee orientation on June 2. I look forward to working with you and your fine team. I appreciate your confidence in me and am very happy to be joining your staff. Sincerely,
Marc McNeese Marc McNeese
Withdrawal Letters Letters
nce you accept a position, you have an ethical obligation to inform all other employers of your decision and to withdraw your employment application from consideration. Your withdrawal letter should express appreciation for the employer’s employer’ s consideration and courtesy. It may be appropriate to state that your decision to go with another organization was based on having better person-job fit for this stage in your career. Do not say that you obtained a better job.
SAMPLE 7: WITHDRAW WITHDRAWAL AL LETTER 4300 Chester Lane Houston, TX 77777 June 5, 2010 Ms. Melissa Anderson Executive Director New York School of Performing Arts 1 Rockefeller Square New York, NY 20001 Dear Ms. Anderson: I am writing to inform you that I am withdrawing my m y application for the program coordinator position with the New York School of Performing Arts. As I indicated in my interview with you, I have been exploring ex ploring several employment possibilities. This week I was offered an administrative position that provides a very good match for my m y interests at this point in my career. Thank you very much for interviewing and considering me for your position. I enjoyed meeting you and learning about the innovative community programs you are planning. You have a fine school, and I wish you and your staff well. Sincerely,
Peggy Ware Peggy Ware
Rejection Letters Letters
mployers are not the only ones to send rejection letters. Candidates may have to decline employment offers that do not fit their career objectives and interests. Rejecting an employment offer should be done thoughtfully. Indicate that you have carefully considered the offer and have decided not to accept it. Also, be sure to thank the employer for the offer and for consideration of you as a candidate. You should also let the company know if you are not going to accept their offer of a plant visit. Employers consider it very important that you let them know if you are declining their offer – offer – either of a job or a plant visit. Not to do so may reflect poorly on your university and the opportunities of other UH graduates with that employer. In addition, you may at some future time want to go to work for that employer which may not be possible if they have a record that you did not respond to a previous offer.
SAMPLE 8: REJECTION LETTER 3000 Lees Road Apartment 555 Houston, TX 77089 May 30, 2010 Ms. Lorraine Taft Sales and Marketing Division Colonial Properties, Ltd. 1801 Boston Avenue Boston, MA 02022 Dear Ms. Taft: Thank you very much for offering me the position of commercial leasing agent with Colonial Properties. I appreciate your discussing the details of the position with me and giving me time to consider your offer. You have a fine organization and there are many aspects of the position which are very appealing to me. However, I believe it is in our mutual best interest that I decline your offer. This has been a difficult decision for me, but I believe it is the appropriate one for m my y career at this time. I want to thank you for the consideration and courtesy given to me. It was a pleasure meeting you and your fine staff. Sincerely,
James L. Gordon James L. Gordon
If you are rejected by a company in which you are very interested, you may want to consider sending a “thank you and please consider me in the future” letter. letter.
SAMPLE 9: REJECTION LETTER (Response to a Job Rejection) 90001 Gears Road Pasadena, TX 77556 July 1, 2010 Mr. Jarmon Ullman, President Doodlittle Corporation Red River Drive Austin, TX 78701 Dear Mr. Ullman: I appreciate your consideration for the research associate position. While I am disappointed in not being selected, I learned a great deal about your corporation, and I enjoyed meeting with you and your staff. I felt particularly good about the professional manner in which you conducted the interview. Please keep me in mind for future consideration. consid eration. I have a strong interest in your compan company. y. I believe we would work well together. I will be closely following the progress of your company over the coming months. Best wishes. Sincerely,
Sarah Jane Moore Sarah Jane Moore
TIPS FOR USING E-MAIL IN YOUR JOB SEARCH Follow Instructions Following instructions is crucial when contacting employers for the first time. Instructions on how to contact the employer can be found through an employer’s website, job posting, verbal conversation, or other reliable advice. Send an e-mail only when an employer specifically invites or instructs you to do so; otherwise, you are safer sending a resume and cover letter via hard copy. If an employer e-mails you, you can probably respond via e-mail. When reading the e-mail, make sure to note to whom and how you should respond, following the employers’ instructions. For example, Chris Johnson of ABC Technology, might send you the e-mail, but instruct you to e-mail your resume and cover letter to Melissa Peters of ABC Technology. E-mails that have been forwarded to you and or have gone through lots of forwarding may take more time for you to interpret. Read the details so you do the right thing. It won’t help to shoot off a response to someone who just happened to forward the e-mail e- mail but isn’t the actual employer. employer.
Follow the Employers’ Lead If an employer has been communicating with you, take your cues from the employer. If he/she clearly prefers the phone and there’s no problem reaching each other, then use the phone. If he or she uses e-mail, follow suit.
Thank You Letters Via E-mail In most cases, e-mailing a thank you letter to an employer after an interview is appropriate and welcomed. The advantage is that you can send your letter out immediately. Try to send it within 24 hours after the interview. If the employer is making a quick hiring decision then an e-mail will be seen sooner than hard copy. Some companies however, may still prefer the more traditional hard copy letter or hand written note because they see it as more personal. Another option is to do both. If time is not an issue you can e-mail a brief thank you and follow up with a hand written note.
Maintain a Written Record If you do something important verbally – verbally – like like agree upon an interview date and time, accept a job offer – offer – it’s important to follow up in writing, and an e-mail e -mail can serve that purpose. Usually an employer will confirm an interview time in writing, and an employer should always follow up a verbal employment offer with a written offer. But if the employer doesn’t, you can. Example: “Thank you so much for the offer of an interview at your office. I look forward to seeing you on Tuesday, March 7 th at 8:00 a.m.” Putting information in writing creates a record and can (if worded clearly) protect everyone from confusion and misunderstanding.
Suggestions for Composing Letters in E-Mail Your e-mail alias: For your e-mail alias, include your first and last name or your first initial and last name. Using your UH e-mail address is a good option. Using a personal e-mail alias that does not include your name, for example “superfly26” is not appropriate. Your subject line: Don’t ever leave your subject line blank. The employer will not likely read it or will delete your e-mail. Your subject line should should be clear and specific. specific. For example: "Application ffor or catering manager position listing 43713," or "Thank you for the Interview 10/4.” Your content: Always use standard business letter protocols. Remember this is still a formal correspondence so be sure to use the appropriate title or salutation salutation (e.g., Mr. Mrs. Ms. Dr.). Keeping your letter brief and to the point is even more important when corresponding via e-mail. An employer may not have time to read through a wordy and lengthy letter. Be sure to proofread, checking
for spelling, typos and grammatical errors. Your signature block: For e-mail letters, include your address and contact information in a signature block, instead of at the top of the page. It should give your full name and full contact information, including mailing address, e-mail address and phone number(s). After your name, you can include something that identifies you (as a job title would) like Finance major at UH. Don’t assume that your reader will open attachments to get basic information that should appear in your e-mail, like your name and who you are. Sending and naming attachments:
If you’re e-mailing e-mailing an employer because the employer instructed applicants to do so, again check any instructions the employer has given. If the employer said to attach a resume, do it. If an employer said to attach a cover letter, do it (and in your e-mail give a short explanation of what’s attached, why, and who it’s from). Use the format the employer requests. requests. Name your attachments logically for the recipient, not you. JoeSmithResume.doc works fine. Myresume3.doc might work for you, but it won’t mean anything or be helpful to the employer. employer. When attaching an MS Word document, include the extension .doc so the employer and the employer’s computer know it’s a Microsoft Microsoft Word document. Don’t send a .PDF file to an employer unless you are instructed to do so by the employer.
Final considerations: Be aware that e-mail is a form of written communication and it creates a written record. Retain copies of the e-mail e-mail you send and receive. Don’t let the speed and ease of sending e-mail e -mail blind you to the fact that you will be judged on what you say and how you say it. E-mail, like other forms of written correspondence, doesn’t reveal your tone of voice. Choose your words carefully. A well written e-mail can quickly impress an employer and the reverse is also true.
SUGGESTIONS FOR COMPOSING LETTERS IN HARD COPY
se high-quality stationery and envelopes. Use quality rag bond paper. Paper may be white, off -white, tan, beige, or light gray. Letters should be typed with a computer or word processor.
Proofread each letter for content by reading it slowly aloud; use spellcheck to identify misspelled words. One spelling error is a professional disaster. Responsibility for effective communication rests with the writer. If you are struggling with your written communications, you may need to do more work in clarifying your career direction and in articulating your value to employers. Ask a counselor or other qualified person to critique your written materials.
RESOURCES The Online Writing Lab (OWL) at Purdue University houses writing resources and instructional i nstructional material, and provides these as a free service of the Writing Lab at Purdue. Students, members of the community, and users worldwide will find information to assist with many writing projects. http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/
The Writing Center offers one-on-one consultations where our writing consultants (peer tutors) assist students with their writing assignments. Any student may make an appointment to bring their paper to the Writing Center and receive a consultation. http://www.uh.edu/writecen/ http://www.uh.edu/writecen/Resources/index.php